Photo: Do you suffer from sitting disease?

Make nature your gym: time in nature also improves impulse control and boosts immune function. (Credit: Fitness First Germany via Flickr)

Do you drive to the gym to walk on a treadmill?

Relying on your car might make you fat. Dr. Mike Evans calls it "sitting disease." And now there are "obesogens" to worry about!

Don't like that wagon you're draggin' into 2012? Consider this your "green" boot camp regimen:

Bathe in a forest

The scents of trees, the sounds of streams, and the feel of sunshine through a forest are calming. Japanese scientists have researched the relaxing effects of forests and trees on our health. Turns out, a 30-minute forest stroll decreases blood sugars more than spending three hours on a stationary bike!

And breathing in natural substances, called phytoncides, or wood essential oils, can also help fight cancer. These antimicrobial volatile organic compounds (there are good kinds of VOCs) derived from trees increase the activity of our natural killer cells, supporting immune function.

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Join a green gym

Green Gym is a concept developed in the late '90s by U.K. physician Dr. William Bird.

No, it's not a hippodrome with solar panels.

Green Gym groups meet weekly to do one to four hours of hands-on conservation work, like path building, tree planting, or gardening. Participants' heart rates stay higher longer even than if they were taking an aerobics class. They also burn almost a third more calories, increase their cardio health and muscular strength, trim their waistlines, and decrease depression scores.

It's time to volunteer to work on a conservation project!

Walking is transportation

Even transit—buses, trams, and trains—won't pick you up in front of your house and drop you off at your ultimate destination. Why pay monthly gym membership fees when time in the great outdoors is free? Try walking meetings at work!

Lots of people see time outdoors like dessert: it would be nice but it's not necessary, one should only indulge once the chores are finished and the homework's done. Fact is, vitamin "N", for "nature," is essential for human function and reduces obesity, stress, and the incidence of clinical depression. Time in nature also improves impulse control and boosts immune function.

How will you spend time in nature in 2012?

Lindsay Coulter, Queen of Green

January 16, 2012

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Feb 13, 2012
2:51 PM

Hi David, I have been a big fan of yours for years, I really enjoy watching your programs on tv. I am a taurus, an earth sign and know the mess our world is in because I can feel it. I have stumbled on something that I think you may be interested in. I feel like I have won the lottery in a matter of speaking…because it has to do with the well being of animals, people, etc. etc.etc. This is something that I have realized from having my own pet and taking care of her on a daily basis. Talk about a lightbulb moment, found myself wishing Oprah was still on the air…but she's not and in my opinion you are the person to talk to about this. I would like to keep this in Canada, especially if it is a new discovery— there is no telling where this could take man and woman kind, all animals (but especially domestic types) anythiing alive that needs nurturing, love and understanding. I would apppreciate an email back from you if you are the least bit interested in what I am talking about. Your truly, LR

Jan 18, 2012
12:06 PM

Christine, Mattress recycling? It depends where you live. Here are 2 options:

Queen of Green

Jan 17, 2012
9:36 AM

What can be done with old matresses instead of throwing them out? Thanks!

Jan 16, 2012
8:30 PM

Your aim to have most people living in compact family housing communities just won't do, I help run a 16000 acre farm in southern saskatchewan 6 months of the year, when real estate prices come back up, and I can sell my home in Agassiz BC, and my whole family of 9 will relocating to the farm in saskatchewan (the farm is 90km south of MooseJaw), where we use old methods of Farming, we use Pig

Jan 16, 2012
3:54 PM

I was feeling a need to immerse myself in a forest, so on the weekend I joined my friends for a snowshoe/hike in the snowy woods. It was beautiful and serene! (My muscles are still recovering.) I also came home with a handful of gorgeous photos to share with my friends.

I hadn't been snowshoeing since I was a kid (maybe 15 years ago?) and it's one great way to get moving outdoors in the wintertime.

It's becoming noticeable how I feel after sitting at (or just using) the computer for 15 minutes, versus doing something lightly physical. Okay, time to get up!

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